Picking Low-Hanging Fruits before Introducing a LMS

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Problems will not decrease by introducing a LMS. Quite the contrary! Who has lost track of the accuracy of his training material will not win anything just by introducing a LMS. Who hasn’t build up mandatory training processes before introducing a LMS, will face difficulties changing the learning culture from one day to another afterwards.

It is commonly overlooked that a great tool doesn’t automatically make a great artist, or in other words: introducing a LMS is no guarantee for creating an inspiring learning culture. A good way of preparing the ground for a LMS introduction is to brush-up available platforms, checklists and processes that can be taken over 1:1 in a LMS later on.

Below I would like to show ONE way of creating a high benefit for learners with a low or no budget. It’s about the secret of “picking low hanging fruits first”.

Picking low hanging fruits: high benefits at low costs

Especially in larger corporations we have often lost the ability to think big, but to start small: excessive project management, difficult coordination processes and the hopeless attempt to please every business unit, slows down progressive ideas.

When I started a global Knowledge Transfer Project a couple years ago, I had no budget and no resources. I knew that before getting anything granted I had to work with what was available – loving what is! If you stand before a tree with the sweetest cherries, but you don’t have a ladder, what will help complaining help? Nothing! So why not start picking the low hanging fruits before someone comes and helps you with a ladder?

A good introductory question could be:

How can I reach high benefits for my target group with limited or no resources?

Like the Japanese 5S-Method (originally a lean production method), cleaning up existing learning resources is a good start!

Many people can live with imperfect learning material. But it is really annoying for learners in need if they can’t find them because they are scattered over many platforms or if they don’t have access to them. Following the rule to pick low-hanging fruits first, I recommend to…

  • Put all available training material and knowledge resources on an existing platform (whatever is available in your company: central file server, SharePoint, Intranet etc.). Throw away what is obviously outdated – but don’t spend too much time with that.
  • Or, if your platform can not handle different file formats or you are unable to move the files: create a central link list that will lead the learners to the various platforms where the learning resources are available
  • At this point think in quick-wins only:
    What option doesn’t require too many resources, but will have a high effect on the learner’s side?

In a next step start to define standards, so that newly uploaded material will follow certain rules. For example:

  • PowerPoints should not exceed x slides
  • Cover pages should contain topic, business unit, create date, owner etc.
  • Webinar recordings should not be longer than x minutes, include minimum x questions to the audience and a downloadable PPT presentation.

Just with these little interventions your peers will realize that the “wind of change has started blowing”.

The previous steps are good for ad-hoc search (learning on demand). But what about new hires? They are typically overloaded by the abundance of available resources. Where is the path that will lead them through such a jungle?

The answer is: bring in sequence!

Let the new hires know, what is basic knowledge, what is advanced knowledge and what is knowledge they most likely never need (they just need to know where to find it).

The best solution I have seen in practice is a simple…

Training Checklist for new hires:
Create a simple Excel checklist that includes links to videos, databases, content of your website or your intranet. In short: Wherever learners can find learning content for their orientation during the first weeks and months:

  • Company
  • Business Units
  • Products
  • Applications
  • Sales Tools
  • Technologies

Depending on the size of the organization, it might be necessary to have 2-3 checklists:

  • Checklist for HR topics
  • Checklist for global content
  • Checklist for team topics

Once you have checklists, it is very easy to make learning content mandatory: Create a simple onboarding checklist and make sure that the filled-in checklists return to a central department. Include feedback of the new hires to constantly improve your checklists!

This is the end of Picking low-hanging fruits!

The next steps require more effort – but they are the logical next steps on the way to a new learning culture in an organization:

To give training a higher value, it is necessary to somehow evaluate a training: it can go from a 1:1 peer talk, a practical workshop to a written test, whatever fits best to your company’s culture.

The above graphic show how various individual trainings are combined to a learning path, a curriculum.

A major function of a LMS is to manager individual courses and curricula. It is not a big step to introduce a LMS once you have gone through all the previous steps. I recommend introducing a LMS after step 4.

A final note:
It is good to have a big picture in mind before starting a global learning project. The above project map helped me over four years as a constant reference point.

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